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ARA Santa Fe (S-21)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

USS Catfish;0833910.jpg
Catfish underway, during her visit to the Far East, 1956.
United States
NameUSS Catfish
BuilderElectric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut[1]
Laid down6 January 1944[1]
Launched19 November 1944[1]
Commissioned19 March 1945[1]
Decommissioned1 July 1971[1]
In service
  • World War II
  • Korean War
Stricken1 July 1971[2]
FateTransferred to Argentina, 1 July 1971[1]
NameARA Santa Fe
Acquired1 July 1971
In serviceFalklands War
FateCaptured by British during Falklands War and scuttled
General characteristics (As completed)
Class and type Balao-class diesel-electric submarine[2]
  • 1,526 tons (1,550 t) surfaced[2]
  • 2,424 tons (2,463 t) submerged[2]
Length311 ft 9 in (95.02 m)[2]
Beam27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)[2]
Draft16 ft 10 in (5.13 m) maximum[2]
  • 20.25 knots (38 km/h) surfaced[3]
  • 8.75 knots (16 km/h) submerged[3]
Range11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) surfaced at 10 knots (19 km/h)[3]
  • 48 hours at 2 knots (3.7 km/h) submerged[3]
  • 75 days on patrol
Test depth400 ft (120 m)[3]
Complement10 officers, 70–71 enlisted[3]
General characteristics (Guppy II)
Class and typenone
  • 1,870 tons (1,900 t) surfaced[8]
  • 2,440 tons (2,480 t) submerged[8]
Length307 ft (93.6 m)[7]
Beam27 ft 4 in (7.4 m)[7]
Draft17 ft (5.2 m)[7]
  • Snorkel added[8]
  • Batteries upgraded to GUPPY type, capacity expanded to 504 cells (1 × 184 cell, 1 × 68 cell, and 2 × 126 cell batteries)[8]
  • 4 × high-speed electric motors replaced with 2 × low-speed direct drive electric motors[8]
  • Surfaced:
  • 18.0 knots (33.3 km/h) maximum
  • 13.5 knots (25.0 km/h) cruising
  • Submerged:
  • 16.0 knots (29.6 km/h) for ½ hour
  • 9.0 knots (16.7 km/h) snorkeling
  • 3.5 knots (6.5 km/h) cruising[8]
Range15,000 nm (28,000 km) surfaced at 11 knots (20 km/h)[7]
Endurance48 hours at 4 knots (7 km/h) submerged[7]
  • 9–10 officers
  • 5 petty officers
  • 70 enlisted men[7]
Sensors and
processing systems
  • WFA active sonar
  • JT passive sonar
  • Mk 106 torpedo fire control system[7]

ARA Santa Fe was an Argentine  Balao-class submarine that was lost during the Falklands War. Built by the US during the Second World War, the ship operated in the United States Navy as USS Catfish (SS-339) until 1971 when she was transferred to the Argentine Navy. She served until 1982 when she was captured by the British at South Georgia after being seriously damaged and subsequently sank along a pier, with just her sail visible above the waterline. The submarine was raised, towed out of the bay and scuttled in deep waters in 1985.

U.S. Navy service

Catfish was launched 19 November 1944 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Connecticut; sponsored by Mrs. J. J. Crowley; and commissioned 19 March 1945, Lieutenant Commander W. A. Overton, USNR, in command.

Catfish sailed from New London 4 May 1945 for Pearl Harbor, arriving 29 June. After training and the installation of new equipment, she proceeded to Guam for special training, then departed 8 August on her first war patrol, a special mission to locate a minefield off Kyūshū. When the cease-fire order was given 15 August, she was ordered to the Yellow Sea for surface patrol and lifeguard duty. She returned to Guam 4 September, thence to the West Coast, arriving at Seattle 29 September.

Based at San Diego, Catfish operated locally on the west coast and made two cruises to the Far East during which she conducted simulated war patrols and provided services to the Seventh Fleet.

Catfish was extensively modernized in a GUPPY II conversion (August 1948–May 1949), giving her greater submerged speed and endurance. She was on another Far Eastern cruise when war broke out in Korea in which area she made a reconnaissance patrol in support of the United Nations forces. Catfish returned to the States 20 October 1950 and was based in San Diego.

After that the submarine carried out training exercises with Naval Reservists off the west coast, operated with the Canadian Forces in joint antisubmarine warfare exercises, and made several cruises to the Far East.

Catfish was decommissioned and transferred to the Argentine Navy on 1 July 1971.


Argentine service

In 1982, Santa Fe took part in the Falklands War alongside San Luis, the Argentine Navy's only other operative submarine. Santa Fe supported the Argentine invasion by landing tactical divers at Yorke Bay, who marked the beach for the main amphibious force and seized the lighthouse. Later, she departed from the islands and stayed on station in the naval submarine base at the city of Mar del Plata as a large British task force approached the South Atlantic.

On 12 April, Santa Fe was ordered to ferry a party of marines, based at Puerto Belgrano, and supplies to Grytviken, in South Georgia. She departed from Mar del Plata in the early hours of 17 April.[9]

On 23 April, the Royal Navy ships HMS Brilliant, HMS Antrim, HMS Plymouth and the ice patrol ship HMS Endurance were sent to retake the island of South Georgia with a detachment of Royal Marines and Special Boat Squadron commandos.

Santa Fe accomplished the resupply mission and landed the marines on 25 April. Members of the Argentine garrison had salvaged a crippled BAS launch, which was used to download the cargo.[10] Some hours later, after leaving Grytviken, Santa Fe was detected on radar by Lieutenant Chris Parry, the observer of the Westland Wessex HAS.3 anti-submarine helicopter from Antrim, and attacked with depth charges. This attack caused extensive internal damage, including the splitting of a ballast tank, the dismounting of electrical components and shocks to the machinery. As the submarine struggled to return to Grytviken on the surface, Plymouth launched a Westland Wasp HAS.1 helicopter, and Brilliant launched a Westland Lynx HAS.2. The Lynx dropped a Mk 46 torpedo, which failed to strike home, but strafed the submarine with its pintle-mounted 7.62 mm L7 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). The Wessex also fired on Santa Fe with its GPMG. The Wasp from HMS Plymouth and two other Wasps launched from Endurance fired AS-12 air-to-surface anti-ship missiles at the submarine, scoring hits. Santa Fe's men and the marines onshore attempted to fight off the attack by firing their rifles, machine guns, and an old Bantam anti-tank missile at the aircraft, but the Argentine boat was damaged badly enough to prevent her from submerging or even from sailing away. The crew abandoned the listing submarine at Grytviken pier[11][12] on South Georgia and surrendered, along with the Argentine garrison, to the British forces.[13][14] Brilliant's diving officer, Lt. Chris Sherman, went down to place a charge to disable the submarine further, and blew off its rudder.

While under guard on the submarine by a British Royal Marine, Argentine Navy Petty Officer Felix Artuso was mistakenly shot dead on 26 April while a prisoner of war; his body was buried at Grytviken Cemetery.[15][16] Artuso was shot because it was believed that he was trying to sabotage the vessel.[13] According to some members of her crew, in the middle of the confusion that followed the incident, a number of valves and hatchways were left open, the submarine flooded and sank alongside the pier, with only her combat-damaged conning tower showing above the surface.[17][18]

After the conflict ended, Santa Fe was considered to be worthless as a war prize because she was non-standard, obsolete, badly damaged and too expensive to repair. As a result, the submarine was temporarily raised by the British, towed into deep water and scuttled on 10 February 1985.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN 1-55750-263-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 275–280. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e f U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305-311
  4. ^ a b c d e Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 275–280. ISBN 978-0-313-26202-9.
  5. ^ U.S. Submarines Through 1945 p. 261
  6. ^ a b c U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h U.S. Submarines Since 1945 pp. 242
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Friedman, Norman (1994). U.S. Submarines Since 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 11–43. ISBN 1-55750-260-9.
  9. ^ Bóveda, Jorge (2007). La Odisea del submarino Santa Fe. IPN editores, pp. 79–90. ISBN 978-950-899-073-0 (in Spanish)
  10. ^ Bóveda, pp. 105–106 and 122
  11. ^ Cindy Buxton; Annie Price. Survival: South Atlantic. HarperCollins. p. 172. ISBN 0-246-12087-8.
  12. ^ "Operation Paraquet – Recapture of South Georgia".
  13. ^ a b Yates, D. (2006). Bomb Alley – Falklands War 1982: Aboard HMS Antrim at War. Pen & Sword Maritime. pp. 95–105. ISBN 1-84415-417-3.
  14. ^ Bóveda, pp. 110–123
  15. ^ Evans, Michael (5 October 2007). "Marine killed Argentinian in Falklands war blunder". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  16. ^ "ARTUSO, Felix".
  17. ^ "La guerra que no se vió". La Nacion (in Spanish). 6 April 1997. Luego de atracar, y aprovechando la distracción de los británicos por un incidente que le había costado la vida al suboficial Félix Artuso, tripulantes del submarino lograron burlar la guardia y abrieron disimuladamente válvulas y escotillas de la nave, provocando su hundimiento. No sólo el Santa Fe quedó así inutilizable: también el muelle.
  18. ^ "Wreckage of the Santa Fe". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2008.

External links

  • Photo gallery of Catfish at NavSource Naval History no nationality or prefix;

This page was last edited on 9 July 2021, at 20:06
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